Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.” In early March, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, also known as the “For the People Act.” This proposed law, which is nearly 800 pages long, makes major changes to the way in which American elections are conducted.
Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about H.R.1?
A. H.R. 1 nationalizes our electoral system.
B. H.R. 1 eliminates basic security measures, including voter identification requirements.
C. H.R. 1 curbs political corruption and amplifies the voice of less advantaged citizens by taking “dark money” out of politics.
Let’s take these statements one at a time:
A. TRUE! H.R. 1 transfers power from the states to the federal government and centralizes control over elections in Washington. D.C. But under the Constitution, states are supposed to regulate their own elections. A decentralized election system is the best way to protect against corruption and fraud. Although Congress in the past appropriately stepped in to stop jurisdictions from disenfranchising racial minorities, the federal government should not otherwise control elections.
B. TRUE! H.R. 1 nullifies state laws that require voters to show identification, mandates automatic and same-day voter registration and overrides state laws that seek to curb ballot “harvesting” (i.e., the submission of large numbers of other people’s ballots). It also prohibits states from removing from their registration rolls the names of people who are deceased or who have moved out of the jurisdiction. All of these provisions will make it harder for states to prevent fraud and abuse.
C. FALSE! H.R. 1 requires certain nonprofit organizations to publicly disclose the names and addresses of their donors — the one thing that has little or no connection to election fraud and security. The donor disclosure provision of H.R.1 undermines freedom of association and discourages giving to good but initially socially stigmatized causes, like racial equality and gay marriage. The ACLU objects to this provision of the bill because it will undermine the ability of public policy nonprofits to get the support needed to defend unpopular causes, which is the heart of a vibrant and flourishing democracy.
To learn more about the importance of election integrity, check out IWV’s Election Integrity in 60 Seconds.
To learn more about the donor disclosure provision of H.R. 1, check out this letter IWF sent to the Senate Rules Committee.